OpenOffice Server
Author: Guenter

November 30, 2008

Increasingly our customers are asking us for a quick and easy way to export the data they select and see in our web applications into a format they can use with their locally installed desktop applications.

We think that we will not be able to develop a solution for all the different desktop software formats by ourselves. There are and will be too many different file formats out there. But in order to fulfill most of these demands we have decided to use OpenOffice to do this job for us.

In our Plex-XML framework we are generating XML data as a response to a client request. Then we are using XSLT to convert the XML into HTML. This HTML is shown as a web page in a browser to the user.

From now on we are able to convert the XML response from the server into an OpenOffice spreadsheet format (.ods) as well. The resulting ods file is still an XML format. This ods file is handed over to a server side installed OpenOffice. The ods file will then be converted by OpenOffice into the format the user has selected within the web-application.

The work flow for the user looks like this:

– Select the data you need in the web application. For example all customers living in Italy.
– Press the XLS or PDF button
– Get exactly the same data you have seen in the HTML screen converted into the desktop file format you asked for.
– While receiving the file the desktop application (e.g. Office or the Acrobat Reader) will open automatically and you are ready to work with that file.

Our wiki describes how we installed OpenOffice as a service on a server.

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